Developed by CUBETYPE Published by NIS America Reviewed on PlayStation 4 (also available on Nintendo Switch)
Touhou Kobuto V: Burst Battle is a one-on-one fighting game in which players fire projectiles at opponents while dodging incoming fire. Its take on the long-running Touhou franchise features over-the-top 3D combat and vibrant diverse movesets. CUBETYPE previously developed Touhou Genso Rondo: Bullet Ballet, which featured bullet-filled versus-oriented action. However, Burst Battle’s use of third person perspective, jumping, and multi-button inputs lead to a unique experience and new strategies. While its visuals are a bit sparse and its features are basic, Touhou Kobuto V: Burst Battle provides entertaining combat full of colorful attack patterns.
Much like other entries in the Touhou universe, Burst Battle is largely whimsical and lighthearted. Its story begins with series mainstay Reimu Hakurei trying to relieve her boredom when she overhears a disparaging rumor. During her investigation, she battles familiar fan favorite Touhou characters and must overcome a surprising adversary. Players then control other Touhou characters who also battle multiple opponents and engage in amusing dialogue sequences. While the story provides just enough context to frame the action, it is nonetheless entertaining even if players may not necessarily know the universe in-depth.
Touhou Kobuto V: Burst Battle involves unleashing magical firepower to defeat opponents, and its controls lead to an accessible experience. Players use three attack buttons: Main, Sub, and Charge. They also have access to three supplementary buttons: Jump, Dash, and Guard. Pressing any attack button will unleash a projectile, but being adjacent to an opponent will lead to a melee attack instead. Unleashing any attack drains the respective gauge in the lower right corner. Dashing also consumes a dedicated gauge, and completely draining this gauge will momentarily stun the player’s character. All of these gauges will passively refill over time, and their fast recharge rate ensures that players can regularly unleash attacks.
One of the game’s most compelling aspects is how each character has a substantial number of attacks, which can lead to fun discovery and experimentation. Holding Guard and then pressing any attack button will result in a different move. If the player stands still, holds Guard and Dash, and then presses an attack button, the player’s character will unleash yet another technique. Attacking while dashing and jumping can lead to new attacks as well. Furthermore, players’ Charge gauge fills throughout the match, and pressing all three buttons at once will perform a Spell Card that covers the playfield and inflicts incredible damage. Players can also air dash and even instantly fall from mid-air, which keeps opponents on their toes. What initially seems like a simple three attack game becomes more complex with some experimentation. Discovering new moves is a simple process thanks to the game’s straightforward input scheme.
Sometimes Touhou Kobuto V can feel sparse, which can slightly dampen players’ enjoyment. The Options menu allows players to move volume sliders and customize button settings, which feels a little minimal compared to most fighting game options. Pausing in mid match brings up a prompt to quit the current game, which also seems minimal as many contemporary games provide customization options in mid match. It also may have been helpful to have touch pad mapping options or a macro command for the three-button super. The arenas are primarily static and comprised of simple geometry, and the game’s few arenas means that players will often retread familiar territory. The presentation is also a bit on the basic side with simple text use and plenty of still imagery. Its Story, Arcade, and Score Attack modes are also a bit straightforward
At times, Touhou Kobuto V can also feel a bit stiff. The camera is set behind the player’s character and automatically faces the opponent. However, dashing causes the camera to move away. Performing another action will cause the camera to slowly rotate towards the opponent again, which can feel unwieldy in the heat of battle. Some of the animations can also feel a little mechanical, which is particularly evident whenever a character does a melee attack.
Nonetheless, Touhou Kobuto V exudes quite a bit of charm, and the action is consistently vibrant and colorful. Each character has been wonderfully recreated in 3D, and little touches such as ribbon animation are nice to see. The characters’ chirpy voice clips also bring the action to life as well. The characters’ diverse moves also represent their Touhou background. Marisa Kirisame creates star-shaped projectiles that reflect her history as well as her love for flashy attacks, and Sakuya Izayoi unleashes plenty of throwing knives onto the playfield. Watching projectiles fill the arena is a blast, and seeing so many different kinds of attacks in one game is a joy. While the projectiles can glow a bit too much, the game is generally easy to read and not overwhelming. The game plays upbeat versions of established Touhou character songs. The tunes can sometimes sound slightly synthesizer-heavy but they always fit the pace of combat.
Players can expect plenty of entertaining multiplayer action. Touhou Kobuto V provides a local split-screen versus mode as well as online matchmaking, and players can select characters, arenas, and a win count. As the Switch version supports table-top, television, and handheld modes, it can be fun to pass a Joy-Con controller to a friend for some quick dynamic matches. While the game is fast-paced, its simplicity ensures that anyone can pick it up and have a good time. Some moves deal high amounts of damage, which can lead to some amusing back and forth matches.
Touhou Kobuto V: Burst Battle is an action-filled experience that Touhou enthusiasts and fighting game fans alike can enjoy. While its feature set is light, it contains plenty of moves to discover and unleash upon opponents. The simple control scheme allows anyone to quickly learn the game and have a fun time. Despite its simplicity, it provides an entertaining projectile-filled experience full of colorful combat.